Smerke’s Sportsmen’s Club

 

In October, 1952 twelve men met together in a garage behind Tony Smerke’s tavern located at 2335 N. 15th, Sheboygan.  (Today known as Tommy’s Bar.)  Then one month later another four men joined with these twelve for the club’s second meeting.  These are the charter members of Smerke’s Sportsmen’s Club (SSC).  Most of them belonged to other conservation clubs, but decided to form their own club, agreeing to meet the first Thursday of each month and to hold the membership number to thirty.  The club was incorporated Oct. 24th, 1963 and by-laws were established.  The mission of SSC was to raise funds to support the goals of conservation.  The first project financed by funds raised by club members was the purchase of a 65.4 acre tract of land along the La Budde creek located in the town of Rhine, occupying the Southwest corner between county trunk A and Little Elkhart Lake road.  The entire parcel of land was donated to the WI DNR on April 25th, 1964 with Paul Schultz of the DNR being presented with the deed surrounded by twenty-two club members at the clubhouse grounds in attendance.  A sign indicating our donation of the land still exists and can be seen at the Southwest corner of the property.  It is a DNR public hunting ground.

Another goal of the SSC was to obtain a permanent clubhouse, either by finding a suitable existing building to purchase, or by building a new clubhouse.  Fortunately in 1961, the former Prange School was available and purchased by the club.  The sale included the school and 3.0 acres of land.  This transaction was a major accomplishment for the club members and still remains as an excellent home of the SSC.

Later additional acreage at the clubhouse was purchased i.e., 26.0 acres on August 31st, 1967 from the Prange family which included a wood lot to the south of the clubhoue and another 5.0 acres on October 10th, 1968 from the Clemen’s family to be used for a trapshooting range.  Presently the clubhouse with grounds total 53 acres.

Funds were raised for another purchase of April 4th, 1985 for a total of 52.0 acres of public hunting land located at the Sheboygan County Marsh, in sections 29 and 32 in the town of Greenbush.  Access to the property is from Cty. Hy. “C” North on Marshview Lane.  The property is still owned by SSC and wasn’t donated to the DNR (like the La Budde property in 1964.)

Some of the present major activities of SSC follow:

  • Annual February Brat Fry - still a major fundraisor
  • Trapshooting - Another major fundraiser.  Shooting started in 1969, after a traphouse was constructed by members, since then the original traphouse was demolished and a new traphouse was built on the same site during 1998.  The new traphouse is rated as one of the best in Sheboygan County.  The club sponsors Spring and Summer trap League shoots.
  • Annual Family Club Picnic - Late Summer

SSC is a charter member of the Sheboygan County Conservation Association; our club members were very active during the association’s organization.  Throughout the years, many different Smerke’s members served as officers and consultants for the association, also providing extra help during the association’s annual fund raising banquets.

Presently annual monetary donations are awarded to the following organizations:

  • Cross Pheasant/Habitat Program
  • Free Fishing Day for Kids
  • Friends of NRA
  • High School Trap
  • Marshview Sportsmen’s Club
  • Outdoor Skills Center
  • Trees for tomorrow
  • UAW Conservation Club
  • WI Waterfowl Assoc.
  • WI Wildlife Federation
  • SCCA
  • Pheasants Forever

The original SSC mission to raise funds to support the goals of conservation remain in effect and as history reports, we have been successful and we will continue to do our part.

 

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